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According to a new social report issued by the European Commission, the gap in income between the rich and the poor in the EU is slightly less than that in the United States.
The divide between rich and poor in most EU states is less than the US -- but not in all states
However, the gap between the rich and poor in Portugal, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia is greater than that in the United States, according to the commission report.
The report shows that those most at risk of falling into poverty in the EU are single parents, the retired, the unemployed and families with only one income. The report also shows that the risk of poverty is twice as high for people born outside the bloc who now live in the EU.
Educational differences within EU
There is also a marked difference in educational opportunities within the EU.
In Germany, children of parents with low educational standards have a good chance of reaching higher education levels while children of graduates in Germany have twice as much chance to go further in their studies.
However, the gap in most other EU countries is more evident with fewer children from families with a lower educational standard making it into higher education.
One aspect remains standard throughout the EU, the report says, and this is that a person's background remains an important factor in getting access to education and job opportunities.